Kiss of Snow Page 17

“Fine,” he said. “When it’s just us, there’s no rank, no alpha, no soldier. Only Hawke and Sienna.”

She’d never, in a million years, expected to succeed in getting him to put aside the hierarchy. Her breath stuck in her throat, her palms suddenly damp.

“Lost for words?” A glance of ice blue before he returned his attention to the forest track.

Since Hawke’s eyes never changed color, no matter his form, most people found it impossible to tell whether they were talking to the man or the wolf. Sienna always knew. Always. The power inside of her recognized the same wild energy in the wolf who was Hawke’s other half. “No,” she said at last, “just wondering how long you’ll be able to hack it before you fall back on those rules.”

“Keep pushing, baby,” he murmured in that low, deep voice that touched places in her body it had no business touching. “We’ll see what it gets you.”

“Frustration!” she said, throwing caution to the winds on an adrenalinefueled rush of courage. “That’s all it’s ever gotten me. If sexual attraction followed any kind of a logical rule, I’d be in bed with Kit right now instead of sitting next to a man too scared to take a chance.”

A charged silence.

Sienna couldn’t believe she’d said that. It was going too far, even for her. Hawke was alpha—whether or not the rules were currently in operation between them—which meant he was dominant beyond any Psy or human man, and most changeling males, too. Men like that did not like having their strength questioned on any level.

“After your meeting with Sascha,” he said, his tone silky with menace, “that’s when we’ll talk about fear.”

Sienna leaned back in her seat, trying to control her racing heartbeat. He could hear it, of that she had no doubt. But she was Psy, had been Ming LeBon’s protégée. She wasn’t about to let anyone scare her off—not even a predatory changeling wolf so lethal, the feral wolves treated him as their leader.

Brass balls. Big ones.

The memory of Evie’s words gave her a slightly hysterical confidence, but it was confidence nonetheless. Using every ounce of the will that had allowed her to retain a personality even in Ming’s tender care, she wrenched her heartbeat and breathing under control. It had nothing to do with what she felt and everything to do with playing a very dangerous game with a predator who had much bigger teeth.

A growl filled the vehicle, filled her senses, just as they entered the lane that led to a small clearing not far from Lucas and Sascha’s home. “You taste of ice.”

“It’s necessary,” she said with manufactured calm. “You know it is.” He’d caught her in an active state not long before she left the den to spend several months with the cats, seen firsthand what she could do. She’d chosen an isolated section to attempt her experiments at harnessing the fury of the X-marker, but an hour into it, she’d turned around and there he was, a huge wolf, proud and beautiful.

Now, he didn’t answer as he brought the vehicle to a halt. Getting out, she took a deep breath, feeling as if she’d escaped the lair of the very big, very bad wolf. Then she met Hawke’s eyes across the hood of the SUV. Oh God. All eyes of ice blue and hair of silver-gold, he was her every fantasy come to life.

And he was focused on her to the exclusion of all else.

She wet dry lips, saw his eyes follow the movement. “Stop it.”

A faint smile that made every tiny hair on her body rise in quivering attention. “How fast can you run?” A wolf’s question.

“I’m not running from you.” She held her ground.

“We’ll see.” Pushing off the SUV, he led the way to the cabin.

“You need to go away while I’m talking with Sascha,” she said after she was certain the wolf wasn’t about to make good on its threat.

To her surprise, he made no argument. “I’ll go for a run. Luc doesn’t like me close to Sascha at the moment.”

“Really?” Startled, she looked toward where the DarkRiver alpha was waiting with his mate, a small light illuminating the outdoor seating area. “I thought you two had trust.”

“His mate is pregnant. It changes the balance.” Raising his hand in hello to the alpha couple, he glanced at her. “I’ll be back in an hour. Enough time?”

She didn’t trust his sudden cooperation but tried to keep her own tone just as businesslike. “Twenty more minutes?”

“Fine.” Then he was gone, a sleek shadow in the dark.

Her heart slipped the vise of her rigid mental control to slam against her chest at witnessing his incredible speed. If Hawke ever did chase her, she’d better hope she had one hell of a head start. Then again, it might be more fun to get caught.

“Sienna.” Lucas’s voice broke through her stunned realization that she wasn’t as averse to the idea of playing prey to Hawke’s wolf as she’d thought.

Closing the distance to the cabin, she smiled, hoping her distraction didn’t show. “Hi.”

“Grab a seat.” The leopard rose from his own chair. “I’ll stay out of earshot and make sure the sentinels are, too.”

Sienna knew the reason for the courtesy was because his mating bond with Sascha meant he’d know the instant she felt in any way threatened. “Thanks.”

Lucas left with silent feline grace. Getting to her feet at the same instant, Sascha motioned for Sienna to follow her inside. “Warmer there. Plus, I have your favorite chocolate-caramel slice.”

A spark of childish joy. “Really?” It was hard for her to resist sweets—in the Net, she’d been disallowed anything sensual, including food. Since getting out, she wanted to gorge. On food, on feeling . . . but mostly on Hawke.

Heat bloomed low in her body, and she had to focus to catch Sascha’s next words.

“I had Lucas hide it in the aerie before the sentinels got here for a meeting tonight. Otherwise”—a warm laugh—“you’d have been lucky to scrape up a crumb. Sit. I’ll get the tea.”

Sienna nudged Sascha down instead. “I’ll do it—I know where everything is.” Bringing the pot to the table, she put it aside to steep while Sascha cut the slice.

“So,” the empath said, putting the rich chocolaty treat on her plate, “Hawke wants to chase you.”

Sienna froze. “Lucas heard that from all the way over here?”

“Uh-huh. And Hawke knew he would.”

It took Sienna several seconds to process the implications of that statement. “He told me flat out that there couldn’t be anything between us.” Yet he’d just come perilously close to staking another claim.


“What?” It was a relief to be able to talk this over with Sascha. While Indigo had become her friend and guide in many ways, Hawke was the one subject Sienna hesitated to discuss with her, not wanting to put the lieutenant in an awkward position.

“I heard what happened at Wild.”

“I could still kick him for that.” Pouring the tea, she pushed one of the quirky tulip-shaped cups toward Sascha. “He treated me as if I was ten years old.” Except for when he’d tapped her butt, kept his hand there. Her thighs clenched at the memory.

“There is that, isn’t there?” Sascha’s tone was gentle. “The age issue.”

“Nothing I can do about that. I’m always going to be younger.” Afraid she’d break the teacup with the force of her grip, she put it down. “But,” she added, voice vibrating with feeling, “I’ve not only survived and gained control of my abilities, I’ve done so outside the PsyNet. Hardly the act of a child.” She’d earned the right to live her life as she pleased. “I’m not about to let His Wolf Highness disregard all that because it makes it easier for him to not recognize—”

Sienna bit off her words, but Sascha didn’t need them. From the moment she’d seen the young X with Hawke, she’d felt it, that tug between them. It had had no name at the start, no definition. Even now, it remained a raw, nameless thing, but it was powerful. Powerful enough to have Hawke overriding his own decisions about keeping Sienna at a distance, powerful enough to have dragged him out of the shadows.

The first time Sascha had touched Hawke with her empathic senses, she’d felt such blood rage she’d been staggered by it. This man, she’d thought, would never love, not so long as that anger was a red haze across his vision. But then she’d seen him with Sienna. Month by month, year by year, the strange alchemy of their adversarial relationship had removed the poison of that anger until what remained was a gleaming, honed blade, still lethal, but far healthier.

However, Sascha had sensed something else that night when Hawke asked her to prove her claim to the E-designation. It was a truth she’d never say aloud, an empathic secret she’d never share, but there was a deep loneliness within the wolf alpha, a part of himself he kept separate even from his beloved pack. If Sienna could reach that wild, broken heart . . .

“An alpha,” Sascha began, wanting to give the other cardinal all the help she could, “needs his woman to come to him stripped bare of all pretense. No barriers. No emotional shields. I am the one person Lucas knows is his without question, the one person who will stand by him no matter what, who’ll tell him the truth even if it’s harsh.”

Sienna, to her credit, didn’t shy from the frank discussion. Instead, those starlit eyes turned midnight in intense concentration. “What about the sentinels?”

“That, too, is a rare kind of trust, but . . .” The bond was near impossible to explain to someone else, but Sienna needed to understand, so Sascha found the words. “With me, he’s never, ever my alpha. He’s simply Lucas, the man who holds my heart.”

“Isn’t that . . . Doesn’t that depth of vulnerability put you in a weaker position, given an alpha’s natural dominance?”

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